2020-12-22T10:00:10-05:00 2020-12-23T21:35:43-05:00

EARMILK's Best Songs of 2020 [Hip-Hop + R&B]

The voice for the socially and politically oppressed was ignited this year through the difficult hardships and the ongoing atrocities that had far too long plagued our ignorant societies. 2020 saw some of the hip-hop world take a pause from the pop-leaning trap sounds that rose to popularity in the previous year and instead stirred the conversation to cry out for change. Iconic heavyweights and OG's of the past dusted off their mics and collaborated alongside a new generation of poetic songwriters to produce some of the most prolific, introspective, empowering, and socially provocative music we've seen in years. Loud and unapologetic, this year's artists truly stepped up to the mic. With the help of over 75+ contributing writers from seven different countries around the world, check out EARMILK's picks for the Best Hip-Hop and R&B songs of 2020. - David Sikorski, Senior Editor 

*For a full Spotify playlist of this year's "Best of 2020" [Hip-Hop + R&B] - Click Here

22Gz - No Suburban, Pt. 2 Remix

The best track out of the Brooklyn drill scene this year outside of Pop Smoke. With hard-hitting cross-over accessibility, this is maybe 22Gz's best track to date. - Nathan Whittle-Olivieri, Staff Writer 

28AV/Lil Mosey/Souf Souf - Banana

The melodic trap beat makes this track an infectious summertime hit. The accompanying video is a fun and vibrant visual, equipped with bikinis and banana accents at an elaborate mansion pool party. - Hayley Tharp, Contributing Writer 

99 Neighbors - GUTS

We had 99 Neighbors on our EARMILK Presents Livestream series, and I was just so impressed by their knowledge and finesse with production. "GUTS" tracks with that. - Steph Evans, Managing Editor

Adrian Stresow and LOCS - No Mercy

Texas artist and producer Adrian Stresow and multitalented emcee LOCS give us merciless bars in this ruthless hip-hop release. - Magi Camaj, Contributing Writer 

Aesop Rock - The Gates

"The Gates" announced Aesop Rock's return and gave us a taster of the Spirit World Field Guide album. A typically sinister dirge with big bass drops and trademark intricate lyricism. - Mark Salisbury, Contributing Writer 

AG Club - Memphis

A youthful, exciting track that feels very fresh, enthusiastic, and just very much needed fun. - Jacob Saltzberg, Contributing Writer 

amaarae - HELLZ ANGEL

Amaarae's "HELLZ ANGEL" has a swagger dripped bounce and an infectious charisma that's unforgettable. Never have such high pitched whispers carried so much power. - Max-Pasion-Gonzales, Contributing Writer 

Aminé (feat. Injury Reserve) - Fetus

Chalked full of unique beats and notable features, Aminé's Limbo came outta nowhere this year and easily can compete for the most original and versatile rap album of 2020. "Fetus" captures the paranoid yet optimistic approach the album generates with a noteworthy feature from Injury Reserve. - Aaron Schmidtke, Contributing Writer 

Anderson Paak, Rick Ross - Cut em In

Love this unexpected collab between Rick Ross and Anderson - they compliment each other well. High energy and fast-hitting verses against the fun and funky instrumentals - this is a jam. - Nicole Proctor, Contributing Writer 

Arlo Parks - Black Dog

Delving into the depths of depression and isolation, Parks' single is one of the most thoroughly emotional cuts of the year. - John Peterson, Contributing Writer 

Arlo Parks - Green Eyes

Arlo Parks's debut album is due out in 2021, and I couldn't decide which of its singles to include here. They're all amazing, so here's just one of many. Steph Evans, Managing Editor

Arlo Parks - Caroline

Arlo Parks has skyrocketed this year, an artist on the path to stardom as she looks towards her debut LP next year. "Caroline" is warm and nostalgic, triggering memories of youth that makes it even more tender and poignant. Jessica Burr, Contributing Writer

AUDREY NUNA - damn Right

If I've learned anything in 2020, it's that AUDREY NUNA is insanely creative and talented. She has this uniquely gen z attitude, like she gives so little fucks that her expression is her revenge. - Steph Evans, Managing Editor 

Agust D -Daechwita

Agust D, the solo moniker for BTS rapper Suga, feels like the artist at his most raw and unleashed. "Daechwita" the lead single off his second mixtape D-2, named after traditional Korean military marching music, samples the classic processionary melody and mixes it with trap. August confronts himself head-on in a true honest form. - Hayley Tharp, Contributing Writer 

Backroad Gee - I Got Mine/My Famlee

Breakout single from UK rap newcomer BackRoad Gee, became a street anthem around London. The switch-up halfway through will have you screwing your face up. - Mike Wood, Staff Writer 

BADBADNOTGOOD & MF DOOM - The Chocolate Conquistadors

BBNG and MF DOOM create some magic on this adventurous track for the latest update of Grand Theft Auto. - Evan Crandell,, Staff Writer

Beyoncé - BLACK PARADE

I will never forget the timeliness of this single release. The voice of a generation, high in a glass castle as she is, telling the world she still knows what's up. This is an anthem and I'll never get tired of blasting it out. - Steph Evans, Managing Editor

Bino Rideaux & BLXST - Brand New

After the rapid success of their 2019 project, 'Sixtape' L.A. upstarts Bino Rideaux & Blxst reconnect for their feel-good, flex anthem, "Brand New." Serving as the first single for Bino's 2020 release, Outside this single helped spark the massive buzz that both are now enjoying in California. - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer 

Bishop Nehru ft. MF DOOM - Meathead

Bishop Nehru reunited with his early career mentor, MF DOOM to exchange bars on "Meathead". This song is a noteworthy measure of Bishop’s progress for those of us who have been following him since he emerged on the backpack rap scene in 2012 as a precocious teen with the world at his fingertips. Keona Frasier, Contributing Writer

Brandy - Borderline

They say good things take time, and in the case of Brandy's seventh studio album, B7, that is especially true. After 8 years, Brandy is back in with the force of a full moon, sharing the simple and sweet "Bordeline." - Celeste Ceres, Staff Writer  

Brent Faiyaz - Lost Kids Get Money

"Lost Kids Get Money" is an after-party ode for all the go-getters that come alive at night after working all day. While some glamourize the images, Brent cautions listeners to always put the bag before all. Money gets lost when you don't chase it. - Kalen Murphy, Contributing Writer 

Burna Boy - Onyeka (Baby)

"Onyeka" is one of the many colorful standouts from his latest LP, Twice as Tall. Doesn't matter if it's a dedication to the love of your life or the perfect track to start your day, it never fails to put a smile on your face. - Kalen Murphy, Contributing Writer   

bxbyphaze - Unavailable

"Unavailable" shows off bxbyphaze's ability to lean into the strength of his higher-pitched voice as his effortless raps take control over the heavy beat. - Jack Steindorf, Writer 

C5 - Quarantine Freestyle

Oakland hip-hop artist C5 spilled his soul this year through a powerful freestyle off of his album Interstate 5 Deluxe. - Magi Camaj, Contributing Writer 

CHIKA - BALENCIES

A masterful spoken word poet stuck on fast forward, CHIKA spits meticulously-crafted lyrics with zero hesitation. Tracks like "BALENCIES" showcase her vivid storytelling abilities and further validates her place as a prophet of the modern hip-hop era. - David Sikorski, Senior Editor

Chloe x Halle - Forgive Me

This song was one of my most-played tracks this year. The pair's vocals are perfection and this song is sultry alongside a flawless production. I could listen to this on repeat all day and never complain. - Emily Treadgold, Contributing Writer 

CJ - Whoopty

"Whoopty" has become a New York drill anthem through the power of TikTok, but the track's energy ensured it would hit the Hot 100 no matter how it got there. - Jack Steindorf, Writer 

Clairmont The Second - Gun Finger

“Gun Finger” perfectly showcases Clairmont’s skill and versatility as a rapper, producer, and engineer. The song flows effortlessly between beatswitches, introducing and recontextualising motifs and musical ideas throughout. - Othneil Gayle, Contributing Writer

clipping. - Say the Name

A vicious, foreboding, claustrophobic track from clipping.'s new album that's also a futuristic horror film score fully fleshed out. - Mark Salisbury, Contributing Writer 

Cloud Atrium - Polarity

"Polarity" is a chilling juxtaposition between serenity and chaos with hypnotic, dream-like vocals and shimmering pads being flattened by distorted bass. The dissonance is simply gripping. - Othneil Gayle, Contributing Writer 

cupcakKe - Discounts

Cupcakke's natural ability to maneuver in-and-out of such complex wordplay with uninterrupted speed makes your mind literally shut down. Every time I listen to any of her songs, her brutal lyrical assault and never-ending rhyme schemes leave me shook and asking myself "What the Fu*k just happened?"  - David Sikorski, Senior Editor

daniels gone - hundred acre wood

“hundred acre wood” is schizophrenic in structure, the glitchy instrumentation manically bouncing around beat switches and asymmetrical vocal performances. But it's the grimy DIY feel and daniels’ feral intensity that truly drives this track. - Othneil Gayle, Contributing Writer 

Dinner Party - Freeze Tag

The combined work of some of today’s best Jazz musicians, “Freeze Tag” proves that not only is Jazz still relevant in the modern-day, but it has the weight to hold up against repetitive chart-topping songs as well. - Coady Raab, Contributing Writer

DJ Lucas & Wiki - Tricky

This is cut flew under the radar but is full of personal verses and catchy production from underground heavyweights Wiki and DJ Lucas. - Jacob Saltzberg, Contributing Writer 

Dustystaytrue - TopDog

The rapidly-rising rising rapper's sophomore showing proved that he'll continue to make rap songs with complex melodies fit for bigger audiences. - Jack Steindorf, Writer 

Emanuel - Need You

In a year engulfed by loneliness, “Need You” was a timely release that spoke to the need for the warm presence of loved ones in the midst of life’s most tragic moments. While “Need You” served as the touching debut for the Toronto singer, he’s been on my radar the last three years since his captivating vocals stole my heart at a local show. - Celeste Ceres, Staff Writer 

Everybody Eats - Moves

If there were ever a year to make moves, 2020 was it. Everybody Eats gets straight to the bars on this track because time can't be wasted when everything is on the line. Emcees Steve Spiffler and Marco Kane spit some unfiltered struggle poetry that blends seamlessly with Jba1k's stripped-down production—the end result will resonate with anyone in P90X grind mode. - Mark Gavigan, Staff Writer 

Flo Milli - My Attitude

Nothing gets me more hyped than Flo Milli. I'm so excited to see what's next for her. - Steph Evans, Managing Editor

Freddie Gibbs - Something To Rap About

This song & album for me is Freddie Gibbs finally receiving his overdue flowers as one of the best rappers alive. Tyler and Freddie both sound like masters of their craft, reminiscing and flexing with ease and grace. - Rasheed Tulay, Senior Writer  

Freddie Gibbs is one of the most active rappers in the game right now and teaming up with The Alchemist is a match made in heaven. Throw Tyler, the Creator in the mix as a feature and we have easily my favourite rap song of 2020. Dropped just in time for summer, Tyler raps about jumping in the water off a boat he hasn't bought yet and makes you dream just as big. - Aaron Schmidtke, Contributing Writer

Future - Too Comfortable

Future's deep album cut from High Off Life is just another highlight from his standout year. On a Southside beat cold enough to freeze hell over, "Too Comfortable" finds Future as Pastor Pluto at the St. Hendrix AME Church of Misogyny (let the congregation say amen). - Kalen Murphy, Contributing Writer 

G Herbo - PTSD

This song made me miss Juice WRLD more than anything on his own posthumous album. I never really thought of him as a Chicago artist, but with Herbo and Chance, he sounds at home. - Alex Weissman, Contributing Writer 

Haviah Mighty - Atlantic

Committing to using her platform to uncover buried truths in history’s pages, Mighty draws brilliant parallels between the slave trade across the Atlantic Ocean and modern-day enslavement by the labour trade of large corporations on "Atlantic". - Celeste Ceres, Staff Writer 

Henny Knightz - House of Evil

“House of Evil” is a cyclone of chaotic ambiance, only anchored by four lone chords and Knightz’ intense, pleading performance. He lays down a jagged-flowed, almost conversational verse that connects with the listener all too well. - Othneil Gayle, Contributing Writer

Hotboii - Don't Need Time

Hotboii burst onto the scene in 2020, and "Don't Need Time" is arguably his best song that included lyrics with depth and hums that are impossible not to sing along to. - Jack Steindorf, Writer 

Ivan Ave - Find Me, Pt.III

Norwegian rapper Ivan Ave has a distinctive charm to his music that is hard to come by. As a huge fan of vintage jazz records, I am drawn to the '80s Nu Jazz influence on his most recent album Double Goodbyes, which was flawlessly executed on “Find Me, Pt. III.” - Keona Frasier, Contributing Writer 

J Hus - Repeat

Koffee's vocals are so fun and the bouncy bass is endlessly danceable on this exciting collab with J Hus. - Alex Weissman, Contributing Writer 

J. Cole - The Climb Back

This cut delivers beautiful instrumentals and that classic Cole wordplay we've all come to love. Endless replay value in what may be the best single from a hip-hop superstar this year. - Nathan Whittle-Olivieri, Staff Writer 

Jiles - Rutland

“Rutland” is a grimy posse cut littered with charismatic verses, distinct personalities and an undeniable sense of chemistry between vocalists. Despite having a coarse, cutthroat quality, the track exudes a kind of familial warmth that can only be attributed to Van Buren’s bond. - Othneil Gayle, Contributing Writer

Joey Bada$$ - Shine

Joey Bada$$ has been active this year by appearing on various well-matched collaborations and releasing his EP The Light Pack. “Shine” is surely a standout track filled with boastful wordplay over a sample of the timeless Roy Ayers record “Everybody Loves the Sunshine.” - Keona Frasier, Contributing Writer 

Jon Swaii - Cut

Bronx artist Jon Swaii released a track filled with passionate lyrics depicting an emotional and honest storyline of gains and losses. - Magi Camaj, Contributing Writer

JPEGMAFIA - Bald!

“Bald!” is a monument release displaying everything there is to admire about JPEGMAFIA. From quirky, internet culture-infused production to humorously outlandish bars, “Bald!” is a JPEGMAFIA crash course. - Othneil Gayle, Contributing Writer

Jucee Froot - Sidewalk

Fearless and provocative, there's nothing that Jucee Froot won't rap about, and anything she does cover, she delivers it with a merciless flow, "Sidewalk" truly proves that. - David Sikorski, Senior Editor

Junia-T, Faiza - Puzzles

Even more potent than the elegant composition of this song is the energy it creates. The hazy reggae beat by producer Junia-T sets the perfect stage for Faiza’s delicate vocals as she details the beauty and pain of navigating the world as a Black woman. - Celeste Ceres, Staff Writer

Kalan.Frfr - Scoring

Former SDSU football standout, Kalan.Frfr makes his official entrance into the mainstream with his festive single, "Scoring," which not only lit the streets up but was used heavily for ESPN's NBA Finals campaign. - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer

Liv.e - LazyEaterBets

One of the more underrated breakout artists out of 2020 was definitely Liv.e. This song encapsulates what makes her 2020 debut so special - it's full of warmth, emotionally intelligent, soulful, and genuine. - Rasheed Tulay, Senior Writer 

Love Mansuy - Count On You (feat. Lil Wayne)

Anytime Lil Wayne crosses over into R&B features, it typically turns out well (a la Lucy's Love by SiR) and this track is no different. - John Peterson, Contributing Writer 

Lucki - Chosen One

Produced by Brent Rambo, "Chosen One," is Lucki at his absolute best as we hear the Chicago native struggle with the pressures of being the one picked to lead the journey. - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer 

Marvin Ariza - Cool Math Games

“Cool Math Games” is sonic molasses. Marvin Ariza delivers an extended verse in a lazy, buttery, drawl with ever-evolving flows and masterful rhyme schemes. Smooth, creamy samples pour over familiar boombap percussion, creating a calm, blissful atmosphere. - Othneil Gayle, Contributing Writer 

Mick Jenkins - Carefree

“Carefree” was released only a few days into 2020 and quickly excited fans who were awaiting Mick Jenkin’s album The Circus. I enjoyed the overall quality of Mick’s songwriting, especially the political undertones that made me appreciate his truth-speaking candor even more. - Keona Frasier, Contributing Writer 

Mick Jenkins - The Light

EARTHGANG came to Chicago and performed with Mick Jenkins at the start of the year, pre-COVID. It was the last concert I saw before quarantine and this was my favorite song of theirs that got me through the year missing live music. - Alex Weissman, Contributing Writer  

MLB Drippyy - Hit Em Up

One of Chicago's rising rappers, MLB Drippyy didn't release a ton of music in 2020, but instead seems to be setting himself up for a strong 2021. "Hit Em Up" demands the track be played at full volume blasting through your car's speakers. - Jack Steindorf, Writer 

Mozzy - I Ain't Perfect ft. Blxst

Rap songs that combine a catchy hook with skillful bars on the verses are hard to beat, and Mozzy and Blxst complement each other so well that "I Ain't Perfect" has become an instant favorite. - Jack Steindorf, Writer 

Myles Cameron - LED

Rising Brooklyn-based creative made his mark on the New York creative landscape with his debut EP Black Sheep championed by highly personal lead single "LED". - John Peterson, Contributing Writer 

N01SES & Trizz - Best Friend

The underground can rejoice! Two staples in N01SES & Trizz finally connected for, "Best Friend," a poignant record that finds N0 speaking on the death of his close friend, SWRV, who happens to also be the producer of this song. - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer 

Najee Muhammad - Love is Law

After a two year hiatus, Najee Muhammed's (fka Ali-Superb) 2020 project was widely anticipated by his fans. Sticking to his signature soulful sound, he returned to rave reviews as songs like, "Love is Law," showcased just how brilliant of a songwriter Najee is. Hailing from Gary, Indiana, rising rapper Richie Bux harnesses his anger for this fast-paced, engaging banger. Produced by 44wxrld, "Ironman," is best enjoyed when played at full volume while doing something you're not supposed to be. - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer 

Nas, Hit-Boy - Ultra Black

A quintessential anthem of pride, Nas and Hit-Boy join forces to celebrate Black culture in this mesmerizing release. - Celeste Ceres, Staff Writer  

Nicky Chulo & Radamiz - 2020 America

"Through an impactful and moving visual, Nicky Chulo, a talented creative, graphic designer, and art director, and Radamiz, a gifted New York rapper, came together to capture an honest portrayal of life in "2020 America." - Magi Camaj, Contributing Writer 

Noname - Song 33

In this Madlib produced track, Noname poetically unpacks racial injustice and misogyny during a pivotal time for activism in America. While fans were polarized on the controversy surrounding the track, Noname certainly provided much-needed context to the social unrest experienced this year. - Keona Frasier, Contributing Writer 

A poetic and spoken word-esque single from Noname, evolving around racial injustice and police brutality in America. With her haunting vocals paired with the jazzy beat, Noname is direct, referencing 2020 tragedies we saw happen to black men, women, and transgender people across America and gives a spotlight to the Black Lives Matter movement. - Nicole Proctor, Contributing Writer

Old City - Pipebomb

This cut is an aggressive political hip-hop release that makes expert use of a classic Dead Kennedys sample. - Mark Salisbury, Contributing Writer 

P1 - Big on Big

2020 was a huge year for L.A. native, P1 thanks to his single, "Big on Big." Pay homage to that signature West Coast sound, he fully establishes himself as a melodic force to be reckoned with on this one. - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer 

Pa Salieu - My Family

Quite possibly the best hook of 2020. Pa and Backroad's chemistry, unorthodox flows, and raw energy is utterly captivating. - Rasheed Tulay, Senior Writer 

Potatohead People feat. De La Soul - Baby Got Work

While the entirety of the Vancouver duo's album Mellow Fantasy is well worth a listen, it's hard to top a collaboration with the iconic hip-hop trio De La Soul. "Baby Got Work" has a groove that won't quit with stylish vocals from the legendary MCs. - Evan Crandell,  Staff Writer 

PuffHost - Low Power Mode

Technology transforming us into antisocial zombies? People walking around with bags over their heads? The premise sounds like a downer but PuffHost's "Low Power Mode" is truly one of the more poignant and hopeful songs of 2020. Stay for the incredible hook and epic buildup that pays off at the end. - Mark Gavigan, Staff Writer 

Quakers feat. Sampa The Great - Approach With Caution

This track is an absolute vibe. The production team Quakers deliver a hypnotic instrumental with Sampa The Great spitting powerful words about femininity in the music industry. - Evan Crandell,  Staff Writer 

R.A.P. Ferreira - U.D.I.G.

Off-kilter hip-hop with sarcastic, witty, abstract lyrics. This release is definitely for the more discerning listeners, like me. - Mark Salisbury, Contributing Writer

Raahiim - You Love Me

Another Canadian R&B prodigy emerges, with his sublime single "You Love Me". Delivering a slice of alt R&B perfection, with catchy melodies and love-tinged lyrics, Raahiim creates the perfect recipe for an R&B banger. - Mike Wood, Staff Writer 

reggie - I Don't Wanna Feel No More

Just a gorgeous track that somehow finds a delicate vehicle to deliver real trauma. This release is an honest confessional that tackles hard-hitting real problems told through ice-fragile optics. - Nathan Whittle-Olivieri, Staff Writer 

Richie Bux - Ironman

Hailing from Gary, Indiana, rising rapper Richie Bux harnesses his anger for this fast-paced, engaging banger. Produced by 44wxrld, "Ironman," is best enjoyed when played at full volume while doing something you're not supposed to be. - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer 

Rico Nasty - Smack A Bitch - Bonus

With an unapologetic and unrestrained pen game and executed with razor-sharp vocal precision, Rico Nasty is one of the most ruthless rappers in the game right now and though this track first came to surface in 2018, it was mixed and finally included as a bonus in the 2020 release of Nightmare Vacation. - David Sikorski, Senior Editor

RMR - RASCAL

The debut single from the soultry, ski-masked RMR was a wildly ambitious hip-hop country crossover, unlike anything that music has ever seen. His flip on Rascal Flatt's "God Blessed the Broken Road," is a true anomaly, somehow taking both piano balladry and bold trap relentlessness to soaring new heights. - Max-Pasion-Gonzales, Contributing Writer 

Robtwo - Destination

If the Las Vegas casinos start taking bets for break out artist of the year in 2020, you should think about putting money on Robtwo. Hailing from Bellflower, the SoCal native had a massive rise in 2020, culminating in countless amounts of features and producer placements most notably all over Joey Fatts recent release. The reasons why are immediately apparent the moment you turn on his 2020 standout single, "Destination.". - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer  

Rubi Rose - He In His Feelings

There's a crazy range of emotion expressed throughout this track but it's the way that Rubi Rose always maintains a confident sense of control and seamlessly flipping the tempo up-and-down is what makes her one of the rappers out there right now.  - David Sikorski, Senior Editor

Run the Jewels - a few words for the firing squad

At a time when the world was literally burning with so much repressed rage at the many social injustices that we witnessed this year alone, finally set free in marches on the street, viral digital conversations, and so many more intimate moments, Run the Jewels had something of their own to say. And man, did it feel good when they did. This song (and their consequent album) was more than just a calculated release to rack up streaming numbers and any album related sales. It was a voice for so many that felt that they either didn't have one, or didn't know how to use it. Not to mention its outstanding production and inspired delivery. It immediately cemented itself as one of my top RTJ songs of all time. - Valeria Dulava, Indie Editor

Run the Jewels - JU$T

This was a much needed bass-heavy banger from the new RTJ4 album that features a killer verse from rock legend Zack De La Rocha and an earworm hook from the mastermind producer and singer Pharrell Williams. - Mark Salisbury, Contributing Writer

SAULT - Stop Dem

Pounding, conscious hip-hop with driving synth stabs and mesmerizing chants. - Mark Salisbury, Contributing Writer 

SAULT - Son Shine

Mixing R&B, jazz, and classic '80s groove, "Son Shine" is a stand-out on SAULT's recent LP Untitled (Rise) that encapsulates their originality and forward-thinking approach to songwriting. - Jessica Burr, Contributing Writer 

ShrapKnel - Dumile High

Raw, no-frills hip-hop recalling the classic Def Jux era, while also oozing with style and swagger. - Mark Salisbury, Contributing Writer    

Shygirl - Slime

A glitchy and futuristic blend of hip-hop, grime, pop, and house. Shygirl is unafraid to get experimental but never lacks catchiness. - Jacob Saltzberg, Contributing Writer 

Skip Marley, Rick Ross, Ari Lennox - Make Me Feel

In the collab of a lifetime, the grandson of the legendary Bob Marley enlists Ari Lennox and Rick Ross to create an intoxicating cocktail of reggae and neo-soul. As refreshing as the summertime breeze, "Make Me Feel" speaks on a special type of hope found in love. - Celeste Ceres, Staff Writer

Slatt Zy - Angels Cry

Slatt Zy's voice is one of the most distinct in rap, and on "Angels Cry," he conveys pain with such a strong delivery that it's impossible to not feel it yourself. - Jack Steindorf, Writer 

slowthai - Feel Away

A nostalgic, sentimental song that is both evocative and bittersweet. This 2020 release showcases slowthai's versatility as an up-and-coming rapper and someone to keep an eye out for going into the new year. - Jacob Saltzberg, Contributing Writer

In memory of his late younger brother, "Feel Away" is unexpected. Slowthai takes a softer, stripped back approach here with his lyrics floating over the top of melodic piano loops, followed by James Blake's haunting vocals creating an emotionally charged track that has you feeling like you just entered a page in slowthai's diary. - Nicole Proctor, Contributing Writer

Spence - Standby (Dnt Luv U)

Spence definitely brings the feel-good vibes with his bouncy hip-hop flair. An artist known for his bold, lyrical honesty and colorful instrumentation, listeners cannot help but fall in love with this playful release. - Chloe Robinson, Staff Writer 

Spillage Village - Judas ft. Ari Lennox, Chance the Rapper, Buddy, Masego

A group of friends turned a group of artists who created some of the dopest music in 2020 with the album Spilligion. "Judas" is the lyrical standout from the Atlanta-based collective. - Gregory Castel, Staff Writer 

Standing On The Corner - Angel

Another example of mind-expanding, cutting edge music from Standing On The Corner. Genre-blending, passion-fueled material that feels one of one. - Nathan Whittle-Olivieri, Staff Writer 

Stormzy - Still Disappointed

Released at the top of the year, Stormzy's scathing diss towards fellow U.K. rapper, Wiley set the tone for any battle raps to follow the rest of the year. Touching on topics ranging from fallen legacies to family beefs, this definitive record drew a line in the sand for many grime fans. - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer 

Tall Black Guy - We Rollin' For You

A production that is equal parts earworm and tasteful musicality, Tall Black Guy proves that instrumental hip-hop still has a place at the table, particularly when it's executed as skillfully as on "We Rollin' For You." - Evan Crandell,  Staff Writer  

The Underhairz - Nekochan

Joyous, infectious, psychedelic Japanese garage hip-hop, how can you not love this? - Mark Salisbury, Contributing Writer 

Thundercat (feat. Ty Dolla $ign, Lil B) - Fair Chance

As a tribute to his late friend Mac Miller, Thundercat put together this emotional track on an album full of mostly fun and funky anthems. "Fair Chance" combines an extremely unique beat with angelic fingerpicking for this beautiful blueprint with a pair of impressive features. - Aaron Schmidtke, Contributing Writer

Thundercat - Funny Thing

This is my overall favorite song from 2020. Thundercat’s fun, high energy signature funk kept my imagination vivid and enthused during a year where I endured a constant battle with stagnancy and felt the void of adventure. - Keona Frasier, Contributing Writer 

Tierra Whack - Dora

I can't keep track of the number of times someone has said "TIERRA WHACK NEVER MISSES" in our EARMILK Slack chats. - Steph Evans, Managing Editor

Token - Cough

“Cough” is a brutal assault on every facet of rapping. Token nonchalantly fillet’s the stuttering instrumental with razor-sharp flow switches and tongue-in-cheek wordplay. There’s no semblance of effort in Token’s voice, seemingly executing acrobatics without so much as flinching. - Othneil Gayle, Contributing Writer

TONYB. - You Knew What This Was

This mantra is a collection of chill, tropical, emotive sounds. “You Knew What This Was” is a soft cloud to take the fall of the oh so relatable subject. TONYB’s voice is like liquid gold alongside the atmospheric and emotional instrumentals. Go bless your ears with this. - Victoria Polsely, Contributing Writer

Toosii - Reminiscing

Toosii has put out so many high-quality songs this year that, when naming his best, it's almost a toss-up. "Reminiscing" is one of his most vivid, emotional, and catchy songs as he shows the listener an intimate side to himself instead of telling them about it. - Jack Steindorf, Writer 

Waddie Lee - GWAP

"GWAP" is THE stimmy check anthem and it's not even close. Stockton, California spitter Waddie Lee brings some infectious, bouncy castle energy to the mic and halfway through I just want to pull the two dollars out of my Spiderman wallet and make it drizzle. - Mark Gavigan, Staff Writer 

Yazmin Lacey - Own Your Own

London native Yazmin Lacey is a rising artist who embodies the raw and emotional vocal flexibility of '90s neo-soul. This single from her latest EP, Morning Matters, showcases Lacey’s silky vocals, a keen ear for instrumentals, and inspiring lyrics. - Keona Frasier, Contributing Writer 

Zaay - Pill

Massachusetts artist ZAAY sparks our emotions and awakens our senses as we experience his raw songwriting style. - Magi Camaj, Contributing Writer 

Zach Zoya - Slurpee

Zoya's verses are fast yet calculated and the effortless vocal delivery highlights the rapper’s endless stamina. The trap beat in this track extenuates the verses, pausing to allow for Zoya’s quick and composed bars then dropping again to continue the high-pace energy. - Hayley Tharp, Contributing Writer 

For a full playlist of this year's "Best of 2020," follow EARMILK on Spotify or click on the link below:

 

 

 

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Feature · Hip-Hop · Main Stage

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